I’m very much an idealist who leans towards that which is traditional or simple. This probably makes zero sense to those who know me—I’m easily depressed, have had three different hair colors in the past year, and am frequently dressed like I’m on my way to either a funeral or an emo rock show.
But when I think about my future or “growing up,” there’s one mental image that is recurring: me as a wife, with three kids, a pet or two, and a nice little house in the suburbs. I’ll fall madly in love with a handsome, sweet man, we’ll get married and wait until we’re financially secure to have kids, and then we’ll watch them grow up while walking off into the sunset holding hands. Simple, traditional, idealistic.
And I love to imagine what kind of father my future husband will be. He’ll read The Velveteen Rabbit and the Harry Potter series to our kids before bedtime; we’ll go apple picking and he’ll boost our little girl up on his shoulders to reach the ripest fruits; he’ll put Band Aids and Neosporin on our youngest son’s cuts and scrapes, he’ll throw a baseball around the yard with our oldest son and practice fast pitches, he’ll teach our daughter that any man who disrespects her is a man not worth paying attention to; he’ll play video games or dress up or spaceship-to-the-moon or any other game with our kids.
He’ll be everything I never had, because I’ve never met my biological father.
This wasn’t initially a decision I made. Maybe it was entirely my mother’s, or maybe that mystery man who oh-so graciously parted with some of his sperm. But as I got older and started comparing my family to those of my peers, I also became aware that I was somehow different. And the older I got, the more thought I began to put into it.
I have a tendency to turn things into catastrophes if I think too much about them. I consider what could go wrong and how things might not work the way they’re supposed to; I foresee all possible conclusions, but become preoccupied by all the negative ones.
That’s why I like to make decisions hard and fast. I work well under pressure because when the clock is ticking and you needed to make up your mind, like, five minutes ago, there’s no time to think about all the what ifs.
With this whole bio daddy thing though, there is no hard and fast decision. It was a question that ate away at me, feeding into my insecurities and self-doubt.
I found out later that this man had actually had a family and that my mother was just some girl on the side. When she got pregnant, shit got real for him. I guess his cheating and lies must have caught up with him. My mother and I were forgotten? Ignored? I don’t really know. And I’ve decided, after agonizing over the matter for a solid six years, that I don’t think I care to know.
I prefer to idealize who this man is, or who he could be. I like to think that my real father is Indiana Jones, and that’s why I like to explore and go on adventures so much. Or that he’s Liam Neeson in Taken, and if anyone would ever do anything to hurt me he’d be tracking people down and kicking everyone’s ass.
Maybe he’s a tragically poetic soul, and fate intervened to separate him from me forever. He could be tall and handsome, a fantastic cook with a love of learning and a creative streak. He’s a moody Scorpio and I’m a daddy’s girl, and we frequent book and craft fairs. He hates all my love interests because he fears they won’t take good care of me, and when I get married one day he’ll walk me down the aisle, crying, and promise me that he’ll always be there.
I’d rather never meet him and think all these marvelous things about him, because I’m afraid that he’s really just a bad person. I don’t want him to be a liar and a cheat. He’s probably behind on child support payments and likes cheap beer and has bad grammar. I’d rather be caught up in my fantasies of who he could be, because I don’t want the cold hard reality to kill me.
This is the decision I make every day. I know it pushes me farther away from him, but I’d rather have my idealized vision of a father than be disappointed and underwhelmed by the real deal.